For Immediate Release: January 28, 2020
Ben Truman │ Vermont Department of Health
802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281
Vermont Closely Monitoring Global Coronavirus Developments
Risk here is low, but take everyday steps to prevent exposure and illness
BURLINGTON, VT – Vermont health officials are closely monitoring a new coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, China, and has resulted in a global outbreak of a sometimes-deadly respiratory illness formally known as 2019-nCoV. Thousands of cases have been identified in China, with more in other countries. Five cases in travelers from Wuhan have been confirmed in four states (AZ, CA, IL, WA) as of January 27, 2020. There are no suspected cases in Vermont.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation, but the risk to Vermonters at this time is very low,” said Commissioner of Health Mark Levine, MD. “It’s important for people to know that the only way to get this new coronavirus is if you were exposed to it while traveling in Hubei Province, or if you are exposed to someone who did and they were contagious,” said Dr. Levine.
Dr. Levine said the Health Department is working closely with the CDC to monitor for the virus. The department issued a health advisory to the state’s health care providers and facilities on January 23, providing guidance, instructions and infection control recommendations.
The department has set up a web page at healthvermont.gov/coronavirus for Vermonters to stay informed of the situation, and to know how to protect against illness and what to do if concerned about possible symptoms or exposure.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Several types infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as a cold. However, others can be much more serious, like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). The coronavirus is spread in the air by coughs or sneezes, and by touching an object or surface contaminated with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes without washing first.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days, or as long as 14 after exposure.
If you have been in Wuhan or Hubei Province within the past two weeks or have been in close contact with a person with 2019-nCoV, and develop a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing, contact your health care provider right away.
Respiratory diseases are common right now and flu is currently widespread in Vermont. People are encouraged to get their flu shot and take everyday actions to help prevent spreading flu and other viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your arm.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
If you or your school group are considering international travel, check current recommendations from the CDC and U.S. State Department: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices and https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html
For updated information and guidance about 2019-nCoV as it becomes available, go to healthvermont.gov/coronavirus.
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